Sep. 22nd, 2008

holzman_tweed: (Default)
As I went for lunch today, I walked past a man standing in front of the Park Avenue office building in which $client has their offices. The man is white, middle aged, and wearing a business suit. He is holding up a sign that states he is an out of work Marketing Executive and asks people to contribute $20 so that he can pay his rent.

Privilege works on several levels here. The most obvious is the fact that the police haven't arrested him or at least told him he has to do his panhandling someplace else.

Privilege also work on the level where the man feels that he is sufficiently desperate straits that of all the options open to him, asking strangers on the street for $20 to make rent is his best option; let alone appropriate in a city where most people asking for money are asking for "anything you can spare" so that they can have dinner that night. Or a place to stay for that night.[1] It should not be hard to see how the only way this makes sense is if the fellow is counting on his presentation as as "one of you respectable folk" to get a pass.

Of course, the fellow may have been an artist engaging in some street theatre.

[1] And, yes, some ask for that money so that they can get drunk or high and guess what -- I'm OK with that, too. If that's the only thing someone can do in a situation to ease their pain for just a little while, it would be beyond mean-spirited of me to deny it to them.

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